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They Got The Blame: The Story of Scapegoats in History

Published 1942

This is a total war; which means considerably more than fighting with planes and tanks and battleships. The enemy has even deadlier weapons— weapons which he used in France, in the Low Countries, in Scandinavia, in the Balkans, to undermine the people's will to resist; weapons which he is using here. Propaganda is a great deal more than persuading people to believe something that isn't true; it is a technique that works below the surface of the mind, warping men's emotions with fantasies and fears, diverting their thinking toward economic conflicts, political dissension, religious prejudice, until the nation as a whole is disintegrated, incapable of the concerted action which alone will lead to victory.

Propaganda has plenty of devices; but perhaps the most useful tactic of the dictators was nothing devised in Berlin or Rome or Tokyo. It is a borrowed trick, as old as tyranny itself— a trick which depends for its success on that all too common inclination of the human race to blame all its troubles on somebody else.

We have seen how the dictators have worked up unreasoning prejudice against innocent scapegoats to provide an outlet for the grievances of their peoples— grievances due mostly to the dictators themselves; but, if the blame can be diverted, that very resentment helps the dictators to stay in power. But this trick of finding scapegoats is nothing new; since the dawn of history, people have been fooled, in times of stress, in just that way.

Never in history was there a period of such universal stress and danger as the times we live in; and every American ought to see clearly precisely where that danger lies. The one thing we cannot afford is to let ourselves be muddled by a smoke screen of false issues, to make scapegoats of other Americans for difficulties which are the fault of our enemies. We must not let ourselves be blinded by religious prejudice, or be sidetracked into political and economic witch hunts. For not only does our own future, and probably the world's future, depend on our ability to fight straight on through to victory; it depends as well on our ability to think straight through, to the end of the war and afterward. If democracy is to have a future, and if the human race is to have a decent future, we must learn to recognize and to repel just such attacks on the people's understanding and the people's will as Kenneth Gould has so effectively set forth in this pamphlet.
New York
February, 1942
Foreword 3
Casting Out the Devil 7
The Original "Scapegoat" 10
Penance by Proxy 11
The Power of Custom 12
Trickery Creeps In 13
Religious Persecution 15
The Blood of the Martyrs 15
Christians Turn Persecutor 17
Protestants Take Their Turn 18
"Popish Plots" 19
The Irish "Invasion" 21
"Know-nothingism" 22
The "Tragic Era"
The Black Man's Burden 25
Restrictions on Voting 26
Residential Segregation 26
"Jim Crow" Laws 27
Public Funds 27
Economic Discrimination
Justice 29
Are You a Mason? 31
The Jew as Scapegoat 32
Russia Invents the Pogrom 33
The Nazi's Number One Scapegoat 36
America: "Melting Pot" or Patchwork? 41
Narrowing the Nozzle 43
The Anti-foreign Drive 45
Labor Versus Capital 47
Main Street Versus Wall Street 49
Labor's Upward Struggle 50
Summing Up 52
Appendix 55
I. Questions of Fact and Interpretation 55
II. Activities for Intercultural Education 56
Bibliography 62
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Year 1942
Pages 64
Language English
Collection folkscanomy_history; folkscanomy; additional_collections


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